(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced it settled its federal election integrity lawsuit against Pennsylvania and five of its counties. Pennsylvania admitted in court filings that it removed 178,258 ineligible registrations in response to communications from Judicial Watch. The settlement commits Pennsylvania and five of its counties to extensive public reporting of statistics regarding their ongoing voter roll clean-up efforts for the next five years, along with a payment to Judicial Watch of $15,000 for legal costs and fees.
In November 2021, Judicial Watch filed an amended complaint in an ongoing National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) lawsuit. The amended complaint sought to compel Pennsylvania and five of its counties (Luzerne County, Cumberland County, Washington County, Indiana County and Carbon County) to comply with their voter list-maintenance obligations under Section 8 of the NVRA (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al.(No. 1:20-cv-00708)).
In the settlement agreement, Pennsylvania agreed to publish the total number of registered and eligible voters (active and inactive) in the five counties by June 30 of each year on the Department of State’s website, for the next five years. It also agreed to publish the total number of address confirmation notices sent to registered voters and the number returned as undeliverable or not responded to. It also will publish the total number of voters removed from the registration rolls on account of death, or for failing to respond to an address confirmation notice and failing to vote in the two most recent federal general elections.
Judicial Watch alleged a “multi-year failure” to take reasonable steps to maintain accurate voter registration lists as required by federal law. On April 22, 2021, Judicial Watch sent a notice-of-violation letter to the Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth setting forth a range of violations by the Commonwealth and 27 identified counties.
In September 2021, Pennsylvania informed the court:
Upon receiving the [April 22, 2021] letter, the Secretary [of the Commonwealth] immediately took action by investigating the issues raised and working with the identified 27 counties to remove outstanding inactive voters who had failed to return a confirmation notice and did not participate in the subsequent two consecutive federal elections. With the Secretary’s assistance, the counties removed every single inactive voter eligible for removal from the rolls. The total inactive voters removed was 178,258.
Separately, a 2020 letter from Judicial Watch to Allegheny County, Pennsylvania led to the removal of 69,000 outdated registrations. According to a January 14, 2020, CBS news report, “This mountain of faulty registrations has now courted the attention of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.” David Voye, Elections Manager for the county told CBS, “I would concede that we are behind on culling our rolls,” and that this had “been put on the backburner.” Allegheny County later confirmedto Judicial Watch on January 31, 2020 that the removals had occurred.
“Pennsylvania’s election rolls are cleaner – and will remail cleaner – thanks to Judicial Watch. This federal lawsuit settlement is good news for voters in Pennsylvania who want to ensure that only eligible voters are on voter rolls,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch’s remarkable run of litigation successes resulted in well over 2 million ineligible registrations being removed from voter rolls across the nation in the last two years!”
Judicial Watch is a national leader in voting integrity and voting rights. As part of its work, Judicial Watch assembled a team of highly experienced voting rights attorneys who stopped discriminatory elections in Hawaii, and cleaned up voter rolls in California, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, among other achievements.
In March 2023, Colorado agreed to settle a Judicial Watch NVRA lawsuit alleging that Colorado failed to remove ineligible voters from its rolls. The settlement agreement requires Colorado to provide Judicial Watch with the most recent voter roll data for each Colorado county each year for six years.
In February 2023, Los Angeles County confirmed removal of 1,207,613 ineligible voters from its rolls since last year, under the terms of a settlement agreement in a federal lawsuit that Judicial Watch filed in 2017.
Judicial Watch settled a federal election integrity lawsuit against New York City after the city removed 441,083 ineligible names from the voter rolls and promised to take reasonable steps going forward to clean its voter registration lists.
Kentucky also removed hundreds of thousands of old registrations after it entered into a consent decree to end another Judicial Watch lawsuit.
In February 2022, Judicial Watch settled a voter roll clean-up lawsuit against North Carolina and two of its counties after North Carolina removed over 430,000 inactive registrations from its voter rolls.
In March 2022, a Maryland court ruled in favor of Judicial Watch’s challenge to the Democratic state legislature’s “extreme” congressional gerrymander.
In May 2022, Judicial Watch sued Illinois on behalf of Congressman Mike Bost and two other registered Illinois voters to stop state election officials from extending Election Day for 14 days beyond the date established by federal law.
Robert Popper, a Judicial Watch senior attorney, leads its election law program. Popper was previously in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, where he managed voting rights investigations, litigations, consent decrees, and settlements in dozens of states.